Sat, 23 Sep 2023

Blinken: Islamic State Fight Not Yet Done

Voice of America
08 Jun 2023, 17:36 GMT+10

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that when it comes to defeating the Islamic State militant group, the "fight is not yet done."

Speaking in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at the start of a ministerial meeting of the 80-member Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Blinken said the group has achieved territorial defeat of the group in Iraq and Syria, taken out its leaders and prevent large-scale attacks.

But Blinken highlighted several areas of focus to achieve what he called the "enduring end" of the Islamic State group.

He announced a goal for commitments of $600 million to help with programs in Iraq and Syria to address areas that militants exploit to recruit fighters, including funding for social services and ensuring accountability for crimes.

Blinken also discussed repatriations from the region, saying it is particularly important for countries to take back their nationals who traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight with the Islamic State group and are now in detention centers. Not doing so, he said, risked those fighters one day being freed and returning to militant activities.

He also said civilians, especially children, need to be taken back to their home countries in order to have hope and opportunities.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi foreign minister, told the meeting that while it is admirable that many countries, including smaller nations, have stepped forward and carried out repatriations, a number of wealthy countries he did not name have not done so. He called that lack of action "unacceptable" and said that being part of a coalition means "you must take your responsibility."

Blinken also discussed the threat of Islamic State affiliates, including those in the Sahel region in Africa and in Afghanistan. He said there is a need to keep up with evolving threats and to also remain vigilant and ensure that Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorists.

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